Q: Who is the applicant? (Gearach Ltd)
A: The proposals are being brought forward by Bertram Nesselrode and Scott McLellan, both of whom have a long-standing connection to the island. Scott is a local farmer and Bertram’s family has owned Gearach Farm for many years.
Q: What is the need for this distillery?
A: The distillery would bring numerous benefits to Islay: by providing jobs, it would help with the retention of young talent on the island, particularly through the apprenticeship scheme. It would also help to diversify the rural economy: rare species and habitats benefit from active management, and Islay benefits from the resultant wildlife tourism. Finally, there is the historic point that Port Charlotte used to have two distilleries; ili would restore this.
Q: How many jobs will be created?
A: An economic analysis undertaken by BiGGAR Economics indicates that by its tenth year of operation, ili could contribute 21 jobs within Islay and 53 jobs across Scotland. The construction phase is estimated to support six years of employment on Islay, and ili has committed to procuring local construction services wherever possible.
Q: Is the site part of the SSSI?
A: The site does sit within the Rinns of Islay Site of Special Scientific Interest. An Environment Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) will be drafted and submitted as part of the planning application. We have submitted a Scoping proposal to Argyll and Bute Council which details the extent of work we consider is necessary to assess the impact of the proposed development on the SSSI and other environmentally sensitive receptors at the site and in this area.
Q: Are there any archaeological sites of interest?
A: A full archaeological appraisal and study of the site is being undertaken and an accompanying report will be submitted as part of the planning application.
Q: Is there any peat on the site?
A: There is likely to be some peat within the development footprint. We’ll assess the presence, likely extent, and any mitigation required as part of the EIA.
Q: How much whisky will be produced per annum?
A: The proposed distillery will have a target capacity of 200,000 litres per annum, highlighting the smaller, more bespoke approach being taken. For comparison, this is a similar size to that of Kilchoman pre-expansion. Furthermore, on-site warehousing will be used to minimise any potential traffic impact.
Q: Where will the water come from?
A: Consideration is being given to abstracting water directly from Loch Gearach situated close to the proposed distillery site or from a borehole located on site. Both options are currently being assessed for viability.
Q: Where will the electricity come from?
A: It is the applicant’s aspiration that the distillery will be almost entirely off-grid and self-sufficient in terms of energy supply. This will include the development of renewable energy sources. A feasibility study into the lowest-carbon and most sustainable operation processes for the distillery is ongoing and will refine the renewable technology that is to be taken forward into the planning application.
Q: How will the raw materials make it to the site?
A: The transportation of construction materials to the site will be determined by the contractors, however this will be carefully managed to minimise disruption. During operation, the raw materials for whisky production will be stockpiled in on-site warehousing, which will also minimise the traffic impact.
Q: What is the proposed timeline?
A: A full timeline can be seen on the exhibition boards. We plan to submit a full application to Argyll and Bute Council in November 2021. If the project receives approval in Spring 2022, construction work will begin in Summer 2022, with a projected opening in Summer 2023.
Q: When will the distillery open?
A: The intention is for the distillery to open in Summer 2023 for manufacturing and visitors.
Q: Why are you proposing a renewable element as part of the application?
A: To ensure that the development can be self-sufficient in its operation and importantly ensure it is future-proofed and highly sustainable, not depending on the existing electricity provision on the island.